…is a failure to communicate.
And just to confuse things a bit more, though this post is related to medicinal cannabis, I’m posting it in the Prohibition Category (obviously).
I’m about to go off on a rant about the Washington State Legislature and the heinous efforts on both their part, and a regulatory agency, to toss me (and a bunch of us) under the bus in an effort to capture funds for the state coffers.
And its’ complicated.
This might be kind’a long.
I want to start with the passage of I-502 (Shirley, you know what that is), but I’m thinking I need to go back to I-692, from 1998 – that peoples’ initiative would be the Medical Marijuana Act. It was codified into law as 69.51a. The law was very ambiguous at the get-go. That ambiguity allowed what’s commonly called the “grey market” to develop. The development being dispensaries without any law addressing dispensaries. At first many called themselves ‘Designated Providers’ and when that loophole was closed those business folks found a new hole, and renamed their stores ‘Collectives.’
A good part of the product those outfits have on their shelves is bought from people holding a medicinal cannabis recommendation finding themselves with a bit more product than they require. Hey, with a whopping electric bill wouldn’t you be looking for a way to recoup a bit? I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, just that I can see the lure – and telling you the way of it.
So, without any real law addressing the thing (from the get-go) this whole “grey market” was born (borne?). This is the circumstance that lead the Western Washington Federal Attorney Jenny Durkan to state the (Washington) medical marijuana system was not tenable.
Still with me?
Jenny said so, after that I-502 thing passed. Yes, Shirley, that would be that recreational weed initiative.
Oh, a Senator tried to fix the whole mess just a few years ago with a bill commonly called 5073. That piece of legislation would have set up a regulatory system for dispensing cannabis here in Washington. The legislature passed it and it landed on the Governor’s desk. The then governor line vetoed all the sections that had to do with the state having any part in it. 36 sections. It left a mess.
The Governor had contacted the Washington State Federal Attorneys asking about the risk to state employees should she sign the bill. Jenny Durkan told her state actors would be in jeopardy of federal prosecution for crimes related to the distribution of an illegal drug. The Gov got out her red pen.
Still with me?
It’s okay if it doesn’t seem to make any sense to you.
It doesn’t. Any of it.
And it gets worse.
So, the law makers in the state got all in a panic because the United States Attorney General’s office wrote they would just kick back and see what happens with all of this ‘legalization stuff’ as long as the states played by certain rules. 5073, by the way, would have met that criteria. The same bill Jenny Durkan…never mind. You get it, right?
So, the legislature wasn’t in a panic about the recreational end, but the medicinal grey market. Obviously, that was gonna have to go. And maybe there was another opportunity as well?
In the process of coming up with last year’s budget, the Legislature tasked the Liquor Control Board to make recommendations on reconciling the medicinal and recreational markets. The Board’s plan was brilliant. Basically, their recommendations would make receiving a cannabis approval from a doctor near impossible. VA patients would be hosed. If, somehow, an approval was made the suggested plant limit would have made it near impossible for a person to maintain a supply.
Because, see, with the new recreational law there really wasn’t a need to have a medicinal. Rather than repeal it I suppose they figure it would be easier to simply gut it. Because, now, anyone over 21 can go to a retail store and buy pot. Sheesh.
So bills started getting introduced into the legislature. Bills, basically, following the Liquor Boards recommendations. At the beginning it was like watching a horse race. There was 2149, 6178, 5887 and maybe one or two more. 5887 made it right to the wire and then stumbled, rolled over and died: because the Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on how the tax dollars from the new recreational market (currently without a single store) would be divvied up. Or so it looks on the surface. No, I’m not joking.
5887 was introduced by Senator Ann Rivers. When 5887 bit the dust she made the following statement to the media: “I don’t think people realize what a blow this is to the medical-marijuana community. I am legitimately fearful for the patients who rely on medical cannabis because the medical market remains completely unregulated, which leaves a lot of room for the federal government to intervene or even shut down the entire medical-marijuana system in our state. Without this legislation, 14 year-olds are still able to access medical marijuana authorizations without their parents’ consent.
“I think patients should plan to use and pay for recreational marijuana because as it stands today, Washington’s medical-marijuana market is outside its legal bounds and was actually deemed ‘untenable’ by the U.S. Attorney General’s office.”
And with that I must ponder. If the “market” is the issue, why pass laws that affect patients directly? Why not address the “market” and leave folks like me, a vet dependent on the V.A. for my health care, growing a few scraggly plants under fluorescent tubes alone.
Oh wait, duh…sometimes I’m a little slow. I am the market.